Drains and Traveling for a Tummy Tuck?

How long are drains needed? Does a person have to stay in the city of their surgery until the drains are removed, or fly with them still in remove them later? Depending on the location, can a drainless tummy tuck be done and still have nice results? 

Doctor Answers 5

Traveling for Tummy Tuck Surgery

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Thank you for your question.

You may find out that each surgeons preference for drain removal differs, my preference is to remove the drains once the drain output is low (less than 20cc).

I have out of town patients who travel for tummy tuck surgery and I ask those patients to stay in town as long as possible (ideally 2 weeks or longer). The drain removal varies from patient to patient but the average time for drain removal is 1-3 weeks post op.

Find a board certified plastic surgeon whose experience you are comfortable with and ask to see many examples of their work.

Best wishes.

Drain removal after tummy tuck

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Hi there-

Whether or not the surgeon you choose uses drains, and how long they usually leave them in, will be based on their preferences and experience, and I would NOT use this as a criterion for choosing a surgeon.

In other words, I would find the best surgeon you can based on their education, training, experience, talent, and outcomes, and then follow whatever advice they give you with regard to the use of drains and the length of time they should stay in.

If you do travel for your tummy tuck, be prepared to stay near your surgeon for at least a week...But it may be possible to make arrangements for drain removal closer to home once your surgeon thinks it is safe for you to make the return trip.


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Usually for a tummy tuck drains stay in for 5—10 days. Each practice is different depending on what there protocol is.

Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS (in memoriam)
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Drains and Traveling for a Tummy Tuck?

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Find a surgeon who closes the abdomen with progressive advancement sutures. With that technique I find it rare to have the drains in for more than 7 days, sometimes less. I prefer my out of town patients who live quite a ways away to plan to stay 7-10 days, or plan on traveling back for a post op visit in that time.

Drains with tummy tuck

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Most plastic surgeons use drains with abdominoplasties.  The drains are usually left in place for 1-3 weeks, and occasionally longer, depending on the amount of drainage.  There are some surgeons that use "tissue glue" to help seal the dissection area without using drains.  However, living in a rural area, you would probably be better off with drains to try to prevent developing a seroma (fluid collection).  The down side of drains would be having to travel to see your surgeon to get them removed.  You should discuss the options and surgeon's protocol for drains with your situation.

Todd C. Case, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.